By Devansh Patel, Bollywood Hungama News Network
When, in 2007, Tisca Chopra received a raft of glowing reviews for her motherly efforts in Taare Zameen Par and then was announced as one of India's newest talent with many nominations, awards and rewards, most of her compatriots wondered where this new Indian phenomenon had sprung from. Unlike most of her Indian film star peers, she was not a household name or face. Her sudden rise to Bollywood prominence seemed oddly spectacular. Now, Tisca will be seen in Nandita Das's directorial debut Firaaq where she plays an urban upper class woman of today, a role she says is very similar to her in the real life. The film revolving around the communal riots which took place in Gujarat 2002 has already been screened at various international film festivals and has received a standing ovation. Already proven lucky for Aamir Khan as a debutant director, Tisca now gets ready to repeat the magic with Nandita, or will she? Harrow Observer UK and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent talks tough with the beautiful Tisca Chopra on Firaaq, what makes Firaaq different from Dev and Parzania, will Firaaq fall prey to politics, all this and much more in this exclusive interview.
From Aamir Khan to Nandita Das, you're turning lucky for the debutant directors. What say?
(Laughs) Well, Firaaq hasn't yet come out. So I can only say that I am hopeful.
How did you get Firaaq?
A friend of mine works for the Percept Picture Company and he asked me to go and meet Nandita Das. When I met her, she was extremely observant and was looking at me very closely and had the reading of script immediately. Normally I don't do that. I ask for a script ahead of time, take time to prepare and read. I did a reading which she put on tape and a few days later she called me to inform that I was a part of Firaaq.
Films on communal riots have been a part of our Hindi Film Industry. Dev and Parzania were both based on Gujarat riots, and now Firaaq. What makes this film different from the above two?
I think the narrative because it talks about different stories and various sections of the society and how no one section will remain unaffected. There is an upper class, urbane English speaking couple, there is a music teacher, there is a middle class family, etc. So you have all these people who are affected by the riots on a larger scale. That's what makes Firaaq different and effective at the same time.
Do you think as a debutant director, Nandita Das has done justice by not going into the conventional commercial mode of Hindi cinema?
I think she has done justice as a filmmaker. I have a huge thing against commercial and non-commercial usage of cinema. A film is made to entertain and tell a story. Nandita has made a good story with a stellar star cast, the best we've got in India today. She is telling a tale the way she likes to tell it. People will see a commercial film at the end of the day. I don't think it's an art house film.
Was Firaaq shot in Gujarat?
Bits and pieces were shot in Gujarat but most of the principal shooting took place in and around Hyderabad.
Parzania did not release in Gujarat due to the intense political tangle in the state. Do you think Firaaq will fall prey to politics?
I am hoping not. One hopes that the audiences and our politicians have grown and matured. After what's happened in Mumbai, I think people have realised that it's not 'them' and 'us'. It's 'all of us'. We all are waiting for a concrete change now.
How close do you associate yourself with your role in Firaaq and did any intense research go into it?
One knows enough about the communal riots which took place in Gujarat. I am extremely aghast by what's happened there. So I didn't have to prepare for my role except for what was mentioned in the script. But in terms of the various characters I've played, this one is closest to me in terms of the social economic strata, the kind of language she speaks, etc. My role also allowed me to speak a bit of Gujarati.
How tough was Nandita Das as a first time director?
She is clear about what she wants. She is quite resourceful. Being an actor it is easy to be working with a director who has also been an actor because they understand the minor details of an actors working like what Aamir did and now Nandita has done.
Will you accept any role given to you right now considering that you've worked with the likes of Aamir and Nandita?
No I won't. I love reading full scripts. That's my theme. I am an avid reader of international and national books, screenplays; I watch a lot of movies too. If there is something that I haven't done before, I wouldn't mind taking that project up because it makes you more versatile. I am really looking forward to do a period film or a role which doesn't defy any gender like playing a terrorist, etc.
Why should one go and watch a non-entertainer called Firaaq this January? Haven't we seen enough of it yet?
Firaaq is meaningful cinema I can't think of any other film that has got a cast like Firaaq. It's a difficult question because it is a good thought provoking film. I have seen Firaaq and I couldn't stop watching it. It is my next film after Taare Zameen Par, so please go and watch it.
What's next after Firaaq?
There is a bit of a surprise for my audiences. It's a comedy film by the same people who've made Bheja Fry. Then there is a film for Big Pictures directed by Vinay Shukla where I make a guest appearance. That's about it for now.
Any parting message for your fans?
Keep watching this space as I am going to do my best to make sure that you get the very best in entertainment.